Apple's ebook store bans books that use Apple trademarks in unapproved (but legal and accurate) ways

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My favorite Apple branding foible: textbooks created using iBooks Author and sold through the iTunes Bookstore (iBooks Store?) are properly called “iBooks Textbooks.”

Presumably, Apple will one day create a product which they would like to call an iBooks Textbook, but because they’ve already taken the name they’ll be forced to call it an iBooks Textbooks Book.


If I get it right it’s more or less the same as when you buy a song from iTunes it’s called an “iTunes song” and not an iTune :smiley:


IANAL, but it seems to me if Apple uses their own trademark as a noun, that does not automatically grant you the right to do the same. Trademark is not subject to Fair Use, is it?

Trademark doesn’t need fair use because it only limits non-nominative uses that are deceptive or misleading.


I guess that when people join the Apple marketing department they discover that not only does the medical cover not include treatment for OCD, they are forbidden to get treatment for it if when it is diagnosed.


“Brands as adjectives”? Utter nonsense.

In a phrase such as “iBooks store”, “iBooks” still functions as a noun, not as an adjective. It’s not as if you’re saying: “This is a very iBooks store” or “Boy, that store is pretty iBooks.”

In fact, the word “iBooks” in “iBooks store” functions exactly like the word “book” in “bookstore”. It’s a compound noun, made up of two nouns.

What Apple’s lawyers mean is: “Please use our brands only in compound nouns, combined with a generic noun; not as standalone nouns.”


In fact one of the objects of trade marks is to get your name out there associated with your goods or services. Most marketing departments wouldn’t be fussing over whether it was an adjective or a noun, all they would care about was that it was spelled or printed correctly. BMW don’t really care if you call it a Rolls-Royce, a Rolls, a Roller or (if you are very knowledgeable about these things) a Royce, all they care is that the name appears in a context that reminds people that they make very luxurious cars for very rich people.

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Wait until someone decides to start using Apple trademarks as verbs. The entire company will implode.

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Why wait?!

But you could say “That store is pretty Brand X.” “Brand X” has come to have adjectival content—which ironically is the whole idea of branding: you want your brand name to mean “cool, exciting, reliable, safe, luxurious…” not “person, corporation, product, device.” (That goal is, as you point out, utter nonsense. But people build entire careers pretending to know how to achieve it.)

They really iBooksed this one up.


Good call. I’ll start iBooking as soon as I’m done iPhoning my wife. . . what was that noise?

I now wonder if nominative determinism might apply to trademarks.

Am going for Precious.

Thanks! That’s kind of what I thought, but my expertise is limited to wild-ass guessing.

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I tried to iTune in to your post but my computer is totally Newtoned and the battery on my phone is completely iPhoned, so I’m having to iPad this in.

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And these are professional writers?

We at Apple would like to point out that the act of using books from the iBooks® Store is properly referred to as “iBooks ebook Booking™,” while using the iBooks Store itself is “iBooks Store iTunesing™.” Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


True! Language is flexible like that.

But I’m 100% convinced that Apple themselves have never used one of their brands as an adjective in that way. The kind of use their lawyers want to mandate is not as an adjective, but simply as a noun in a compound noun.

Apple has an e-Book store?

Doesn’t sound worth checking out.

Honestly, I think this is okay on apple’s part (if I’ve understood correctly). They DON’T call their ebooks ‘iBooks’; they DID call a consumer laptop an iBook years ago; they’d like you to not get the two mixed up. I don’t think there’s a danger of creating confusion by doing so, but it’s a simple enough fix and it’s not exactly censorship.

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